Shopping for a mobile plan doesn’t have to be complicated, but when you walk into the shop it sure can feel that way considering the way some of these stores, websites and sales pitches are structured. The good news is you can avoid most of the hassle when buying a mobile plan. The best approach to assess your mobile needs is to keep it simple. Before you go out and actively shop for a plan, evaluate your actual usage requirements. This will enable you to have specified plan criteria to present to an enthusiastic salesperson.
When you head out to shop for mobile, keep in mind the salesperson may be one who will more than likely want to sell you a high-priced service contract with a trendy phone that functions beyond what your actual needs are.
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If you pre-establish your needs ahead of time you can easily stick to your requirements and avoid all the haggle when buying a mobile phone and plan. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you evaluate your options:
List Your Needs
To start, ask yourself a few questions about your needs, wants and any other factors that may impact what type of plan or phone you buy. For instance:
How you will be using your new mobile phone?
Where will the phone be primarily used?
Are roaming or international charges an issue?
How many family members will be on the plan?
How much money for a mobile plan is affordable to your budget?
Once you can effectively decide on these types of questions, you’ll have a good direction in what to look for once you start shopping.
Do Your Homework
It is a good idea to comparison shop online between service carriers. Some vendors will offer a lot of nice features, but you will pay dearly for them. Company “A” may offer extras such as a free phone, while Company “B” pushes discounts. Read the fine print and understand exactly what the relationship and expectations between you, your carrier and your contract would be.
Type of Mobile Phone
Before you head out, it is a wise idea to have a general idea of what kind of phone you need. It used to be the biggest decision was whether or not you want to be able to text or take photos, but with modern phones, these features are pretty standard. The questions aligned with today’s phones are what kind of operating system do you want and other design features that have to do with connectivity. These may impact your choice of merchants to purchase from. Some people only want the bare bones from a phone to use in emergency. However, as mobile growth continues to occur at an exponential rate, most people do want some sort of connectivity these days, so connectivity is a pretty important consideration.
Research Service Coverage
I’ve found this to be a biggie. On most vendors’ websites you can query if coverage is ample enough in your area. Try running this inquiry on several companies, you’d be surprised at how many carriers do not have adequate coverage in many (even populated) geographical regions. While it has improved by leaps and bounds over the years, even in the heavily populated. Washington D.C. Metro area, I’ve had trouble with literally having to walk down my street to get some sort of service on my phone. You definitely don’t want to get stuck with a plan that doesn’t cover enough regions to meet your needs.
Pay as You Go Plans
It is a good idea to explore these plans, but these also some which should be carefully scrutinized. At first glance many of these sound great if you have little need for wireless mobile, but some plans deduct minutes even if you have your phone off and haven’t used the minutes you’ve purchased. I had this experience a few years back, however, it appears pay-as-you-go may have been improved since I’ve tried it. However, keep an eye out for the details because if you get caught up in one of these kinds of plans it could easily end up costing you $25 more per month than it would have been to simply add an extra phone to a family plan.
Be Careful of Promotions
Often those “specials” which offer free phones or other discounts and perks look attractive, and some are a good deal, but they also may lock you into a long term mobile contract which is costly to break. Calculate if these savings will be worth the time invested in a company for one to two years.
When buying a mobile plan, first outlining your needs and then assessing the level of service you require can help effectively guide you to making a decision you’ll be satisfied with for a potential long time. If you look at the various vendors before you buy into a mobile plan, this allows you to make an educated choice, and one you will be happy about. It is frustrating to end up locked into a wireless plan that ends up not providing the service you expected would meet your needs. Avoid the hassle, do your homework before buying a mobile plan.
Leigh has been writing on the web since 2007. She has a high interest in business, tech, higher education, and Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia travel, but loves to write about a variety of topics. In addition to writing on Writedge, she also runs a blog about the Washington DC Metro Area and a photography blog Photos by Leigh Goessl.